Friday, November 13, 2009

Confetti: The Wake Wins an Outstanding Event Award

Last February, we coordinated The Wake - an annual fundraiser for the Irish Classical Theatre Company. The event recently won an outstanding event award for 2009 from the Buffalo Niagara Event Professionals! This was the first year Distinctive Occasions had the privilege to be involved with the event. Thanks to a fabulous committee, dedicated staff and volunteers the event was such a success!

Over 500 people turned out on a cold February night to bid a raucous, Irish-style farewell to our dearly departed friend, Aidan Doogood. Tickets included wine and beer, food, live music by Penny Whiskey and Stone Row, and interactive entertainment. A funeral procession led by a bagpiper kicked off the evening’s festivities, complete with Irish dancers. The deceased’s coffin was processed out of a hearse parked outside the entrance. “Mourners” participated in the “Reading of the Will” (live auction) the “Estate Sale” (basket raffle), and mingled with with Aidan’s bereaved “family and friends” (local actors).

This was an outstanding event because all of the elements aligned in a seamless way which led to its success. The theme of the event was carried through in every aspect of the evening. The marketing campaign, the choice of venue, the activities, the food & drink, the entertainment, and the décor all supported and enhanced this unique theme. The venue, the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, fit the event perfectly. The building, with its expansive space and stained glass windows actually looks like a church. The marketing campaign by Crowley Webb created buzz and anticipation, setting the tone for the event. Posters featured cartoonish depictions of Aidan’s “family and friends” who were then played by actors at the event. Beer coasters were distributed to local pubs and taverns offering discounted tickets, and the website cleverly incorporated the dark humor of the event. Attendees arrived expecting a great party, and they were not disappointed. The unique nature of The Wake encourages interactive participation, and attendees participated wholeheartedly. They served as pallbearers, gave toasts, danced, and sang songs to the departed, all under the direction of Father Malarkey who presided over the event. There was strong community involvement from local businesses, who gave both monetary and in-kind donations. Buffalo’s own Flying Bison Brewing Company brewed a signature oatmeal stout, Irish Tears (“Stop yer cryin’ and drink.”), especially for the event. The Gourmet Store created delicious Irish themed foods, and used clever names such as “Deadly Dessert Bar” and “Blarney Stone Bruschetta” for the food stations. Décor included Irish beer bottles used as vases with farewell messages to the departed written on them. The fresh approach taken by the committee helped draw new attendees and encouraged a festive and spontaneous atmosphere. This was the fifth year The Wake was held, and revenues increased despite the economy. It was well organized and well run, and attendees celebrated in true Irish fashion.

Don't miss this year's party to die for! Save the date for Friday, March 12th, 2010 at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum. For more information, visit

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